Leading Research and Treatment of Mood Disorders

Despite advances in treatment options, many clinicians, patients and families continue to struggle with the reality that even effective medications and short-term psychotherapeutic or inpatient treatments have not been enough to return patients to full functioning. The Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders aims to better understand these complex disorders in order to improve the lives of patients.

Bipolar disorder (BD), characterized by dysregulation of mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, is a serious mental illness that affects up to 4.8% of the world’s population. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder have an increased susceptibility to substance-use disorders, as well as high risk for suicide. It is also well demonstrated that these patients are at higher risk of developing several medical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition in which patients experience depressed mood, changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulties concentrating, fatigue, suicidal ideations and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. There is increasing recognition of patients with “treatment resistant” disorders who do not respond to the usual first and even second and third line treatments. Many people whose lives have been adversely affected by psychiatric illness struggle with a range of difficulties.

Our center is comprised of an active research team, consisting of several labs and programs and clinical staff treating patients through the Mood Disorders Clinic at the UT Physicians Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic. Our researchers specialize in clinical neurosciences, including neuroimaging, neurophysiology, cognitive neurosciences and genetics, as well as clinical psychopharmacology and interventions research. We also conduct integrated investigations of genetics, brain structure, brain function and behavior in both adult and pediatric bipolar disorder and depression. Our goal is to build on promising leads to identify biological markers and targets for definitive treatment.

With over 20 years of funding through grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH), industry and local institutions, we are one of the leading centers for research in both adult and pediatric bipolar disorder and depression. Our site has a large patient database with over 10,000 interested research participants as well as several ongoing clinical trials. We are also a Center of Excellence member of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC), a consortium of leading academic medical centers working to accelerate research, education and improved treatment options for people with depression and bipolar disorder.